“Gosu” is a Korean word implying exceptional skill, and in this case, it refers to the mastery of Korean and Japanese food preparation by the restaurant’s chef and owner, Bang. As diners luxuriate in velvet booths and banquettes, Bang’s cadre of skilled chefs whips up appetizers of boiled soybeans, soft-shell crab, and vegetables or shrimp swathed in savory tempura. The dining room, with its tiered, wooden ceiling and paper lanterns, inspires mellow conversation, and decorative mirrors steam up from menu entrees of Korean-style steamed pork and beef in bold citrus and curry sauces. Gosu invites diners to unwrap artfully packed sushi before warming spoons in a cinnamon tea or Japanese cider, which offer spicy relaxation without the sneezing repercussions of bathing in black pepper.
Mio Bento’s storefront windows stretch from floor to ceiling, treating passersby to an unobstructed view of the Japanese restaurant’s casual yet elegant dining room. Lights affixed to a lofted ceiling shine on scarlet walls and plated arrangements of seaweed-wrapped sushi and creamy wasabi. As eyes take in the refined surroundings, chopsticks spar for fried shrimp tempura, udon noodles, and specialty sushi hand rolled by chefs. Green tea and vanilla ice cream stand out on the dessert menu, which also features traditional Japanese mochi and ocean-fresh swedish fish.
Outside, the street bustles with people, but inside Tanpopo, a calmness floods the senses. The serene restaurant glows with softly lit paper lanterns, which illuminate wooden room dividers and matching tables, Japanese wall tapestries, and plates groaning under colorful sushi rolls. These vie for taste bud's affections with other Japanese dishes and Korean eats, such as koroke deep-fried potato balls with corn and beef morsels, skewered shrimp, and housemade curries.
At Solga Restaurant, guests finish barbecuing their short ribs, pork belly, and brisket in tableside charcoal pots, as chronicled in a feature by the Chicago Reader. But chefs do their fair share, too. They sear Atlantic king salmon and octopus atop the kitchen's grills and they heap steamed white rice into warm stoneware bowls before topping it with vegetables and dollops of red-chili paste. For noodle dishes, the chefs stir handmade wheat flour noodles into steaming or refreshingly cool broths.
The bench-style seating at Yeowoosai—which translates to “Let’s talk about love at this place”—encourages bar-goers to snuggle up to share drinks and plates of Korean fare calibrated to feed two to four people. Since 1996, owner Stella has crafted each batch of the yellow sauce that accompanies the house favorite, popcorn chicken, from a recipe she keeps under lock and key. Other popular dishes include classic galbi (marinated beef ribs) and bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables). Guests can sip one of eight hand-crafted original cocktails and after 10 p.m. K-pop videos pump from eight flat-screen televisions, lending the red room an upbeat air.
With a luxuriously expansive 7,000 square feet of space, Orchid welcomes diners to its warmly lit dining room to enjoy delicacies that take inspiration from countries such as Korea, Thailand, and China. The restaurant’s menu includes a broad selection of à la carte sushi and maki that delights mouths with succulent seafood such as pieces of king crab ($6.50) or unexpected combinations such as seared smoked salmon, shrimp tempura, and cream cheese ($12), with a blissful pairing of breakfast flavors with crunchy panko-breaded shrimp that blends naturally on the tongue without resorting to the use of fire to melt components together. Diners can tongue-tango with entrees including braised korean short ribs ($22), marinated in korean barbecue sauce atop white rice, or cut into a new york strip steak ($20), grilled with teriyaki and served with kabocha mashed potatoes. Filets of seared tuna ($19) swim in horseradish and teriyaki sauces, whereas Thai green curries ($14+) are rich with coconut milk and envy of all the dishes that diners lavished attention on before them.
As Cajun and jazz music waft through the air, guests can chow down on classic Louisiana starters such as fried green tomatoes ($6.95). Diners and wayward archaeologist can dig into generous portions of the signature Bourbon Street stuffed jambalaya ($13.95), which fills a crunchy chicken breast with shrimp and andouille, or the roasted vegetables d’orleans speckled with goat cheese ($11.50). As they settle into the Hyde Park storefront, eaters can inhale New Orleans specialties, such as shrimp and grits with apple-bacon gravy and a choice of one side ($11.95), such as collard greens or homemade fries. The Big Easy's location near the University of Chicago also makes it a convenient destination for hungry students to grab dinner or gossip about which professors wear toupees as mittens.